‘Living in isolation: Reach out to your older neighbours during coronavirus’

Apr 17, 2020
Reaching out to an older neighbour during Covid-19 could save a life, says Brian. Source: Getty Images

Human beings are sociable animals, very much like dogs or horses really, whereas the cats of the world prefer to be alone, like the electric eel! I’m sure we developed the habit, millions of years ago, when our ancient ancestors realised they were weaker than most of the animals they were hunting, so they needed to band together to get the job done. Twelve men wielding spears had a much better chance of bringing down a Woolly Mammoth than one man, working on his own!

Of course, this banding together led to the men, and their women and offspring, remaining together after the hunt, so that they could consume the animal and share out its parts without wastage. A lonely hunter would only have been able to eat (and possibly save in some way), a tiny portion and the rest would have been left in the sun to rot or be eaten by other wild animals.

Gradually, I can imagine this small group getting larger in numbers, as more joined them and offspring arrived. The time would come when they would be more a clan than a group, led by the strongest/biggest/most intelligent male, as their chief, a position he would most likely have to fight for in order to maintain it. Farming was a long way in the future, and the clan would be nomadic, following the game as it moved, eating grasses and other leaves as they went, with the women looking after the food gathering and the juveniles, while the men hunted for game. A situation that must have shown little difference for millennia, a wild existence often involving fighting with other groups over a piece of particularly rich hunting ground, but nothing being attempted to make the clan more permanent and therefore stronger.

That time arrived when some bright spark had the idea of picking the seeds of the best of the grasses the clan was eating and planting some of them back in the soil to see what would happen. The rest, as they say, was history. The seeds grew so that each single, originally planted one produced a head with maybe several dozen new seeds on them — a great improvement and an exciting proposition!

I believe farming was born and humans could at last settle in one spot, where the game was plentiful and the soil was good, an idea that most likely spread like wildfire throughout the ancient world, until almost everywhere was claimed territory, the very beginning of what would eventually become countries and even continents.

Over a very long period of time, humans became heavily reliant on the social content of their lives together; they in fact became pack animals, similar to many other creatures, for their own safety and comfort.

Then, along comes the coronavirus and we’re alone again! The government tells us we must stay in our own homes at all times, except for special occasions like shopping and going to work (if it is impossible to run a business or do work at home), and we must avoid getting any closer than 2 metres from another person, all punishable by a large fine, if we’re caught breaking the rules.

Now this isn’t too bad for families, because as long as you all live in one household, some of the rules don’t apply to you; you can at least stay close together as a group, but your group must still stay away from other people and other groups. On top of this all pubs, clubs, sports grounds, shops, (with a few special exceptions), in fact pretty well everything has to shut until the attack is over, in some ways almost like the experiences of World War II.

The hardest hit by the present state of affairs are the undoubtedly the older members of the community, especially those living singly, on their own, with no regular companionship. Until now they have at least been able to, should they wish, go to the occasional local bingo session, pokies, the pub, or their church, to meet up with friends for a chat. All of that is gone now, at least for the time being.

This may cause deep shock to some people because of the very deeply ingrained ‘pack’ traits I have been writing about, and because of that I hope and trust as many people as possible will take the time to make some sort of check at the very least, of any older neighbours they might have, even if it only means a quick chat though their closed front door. In so doing, a life might just be saved!

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Have you checked on your neighbours in isolation? Are you worried about how long you can remain in self-isolation for?

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